Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pipe Cleaner Letter Construction Set for Preschoolers

Our daughter loves anything to do with the alphabet! As a pre-writing activity, I wanted her to understand the components that make up each letter of the alphabet (short straight lines, long straight lines, and curved lines and how they relate to each other). There are several letter construction sets available on the internet, from store bought options (Learning Resources Letter Construction Activity Set) to DIYs: straws and pipe cleaners (Lemon Lime Adventures), popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners (How Wee Learn). 

I decided to make our own set for a few reasons: 1) I wanted her to be able to place the letter pieces on top of the actual letters, 2) I wanted letter cards, 3) I wanted the lines and the curves to be made of the same material. 

This is a really simple and cheap project, all you need are pipe cleaners, pliers, paper, and markers (I ended up laminating the letter cards to make them more durable, so add laminating machine and thermal laminating pouches to the list).

Now pipe cleaners are great because of their flexibility, but they also end up twisting out of shape very easily. To get around this, I twisted several pipe cleaners together to make the letter components more rigid. The long straight lines need 4 pipe cleaners, as do the large curved lines. The short curved lines need 2 and the short straight lines need 1. 

Long straight and curved lines: Twist 4 pipe cleaners tightly together with the help of the pliers. For the curved line, mold the twisted pipe cleaners to resemble a "C".

Short curved lines: Fold two pipe cleaners in half. Twist the legs together. Then twist the 2 twisted pipe cleaners together. Mold to resemble a "C".

Short straight line: Fold the pipe cleaner in half and twist. Fold it in half again and twist.

To make the letter cards, arrange the pipe cleaner parts you just made into the letter you want and trace around them.

My daughter loves playing with this set, the cards especially (she calls them "postcards" and likes standing them up in between the keys of our piano!). The letter cards can be used in other activities such as arranging the letters in their proper order, writing over the letters with a marker (a good reason to laminate them), collecting objects that begin with a certain letter, forming short words, and word games (change one letter to create words that rhyme, hang-man, etc.).

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